Thursday, April 6, 2017

Herbs and Spices for Vegetarian Diet 香草香料与素食

Herbs and Spices can
improve digestive functions
End of year 2016, Tzuchi of Kuala Lumpur organised an event to promote health and vegetariansm. I was requested to provide information on the roles of herbs and spices in a vegetarian diet:

In general, a vegetarian diet is inclined to dampen digestive fire (due to plant's  innate alkaloid, phytates,  oxalates and many other digestion-inhibitive phytochemicals)

Therefore,  in a vegetarian diet,  it's important to apply adequate amount of stomach-warming (digestion/apetite improving) herbs and spices.

Traditional Indian culture knows the best about herbs and spices for resolving digestive issues among the vegetarians.

Common herbs and spices for increasing digestive fire include
。姜 ginger
。小茴香 cumin
。大茴香 fennel
。豆蔻 nutmeg
。桂皮 cinnamon
。胡椒 black pepper
。九层塔 basil
。香茅 lemongrass
。芫荽籽 corriander seed
。丁香 clove
。辣椒 chilli
。酸柑 lime

Herbs and spices also contains a myriad of phytonutrients which are also capable of
~抗菌抗寄生虫 wading off fungus/germs and parasites
~防腐让食物更耐久 preserving food for shelf life extension

E.g. 如:
。紫苏 shiso
。丁香 clove
。辣椒 chilli
。蓝姜 galangal

-- however, abuse of these herbs and spices may harm the body
-- 但是过量食用也会伤害身体

Antioxidants which are abundant in herbs and spices may also neutralise free radicals, tame inflammation, reduce metabolic burden (often known as 'alkaline' effects)

E.g. 如:
。黄姜 turmeric
。班兰 pandan
。香茅 lemongrass
。艾草 mugwort
。七彩菊 ulam rajah

Herbs and spices usually have overlapped functions.

Those that are listed above are just some significant  examples.  Many of them could serve 2-3 functions at the same time.

In a nut shell, herbs and spices harbours these major functions:

(1)Improve digestion/apetite

~these herbs and spices are usually in the form of seeds and roots, and gives warming feeling after consumption

(2)Anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-parasites, preservative 抗菌、寄生虫、防腐

~these herbs and spices often are hot and pungent

(3)Anti-oxidative/alkalising (reduction of metabolic burden)抗氧化/碱化血液(即是减轻新陈代谢负担)

~these herbs and spices are mostly leaves and fruits, with obvious astringency.

Kee Yew 黄其铫

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Secret of Salad Sauce 沙拉酱的秘密

There are 3 essential tastes
in salad to make it complete. 
At The Veg School, I often share in
Veg Nutrition Course, the secret of salad sauce. This is an important gastronomy lesson,  and I made a point to get students to create their own salad sauces,  by the principle I teach in class.

The secret and principle of tasty salad sauce is actually very simple, as illustrated below:
Sour. Sweet. Salty.

Basically, as soon as, Sour, Sweet and Salty ingredients are mixed together, the prototype of salad sauce is created.

Recently,  a student created a salad sauce without the salty component and swore that it tastes good.

I explained that, the Sour.Sweet.Salty combination is required to serve a very important function, that is to neutralise alkaloids in raw veggies.

Alkaloids are toxins found inevitably in all raw veggies,  as they are part of the inborn defence system of the plants.

If one were to consume raw veggies on its own, and find it revolting,  then likely it's an issue of alkaloid.

This is when salt and acids in salad sauce, are needed, to neutralise the alkaloids. And,  the sugar content is to help mask the astringent taste of the raw veggies.

If one of the 3 tastes is missing in a salad sauce,  the alkaloid neutralisation function will be toned down. This will be especially  obvious when it goes with a very astringent veggie (eg  spinach,  bitterguord). Therefore,  it is best to design a salad sauce with 3 tastes, so that it suits widest range of veggies :)
沙拉酱酸甜咸缺一,功力会减退。如果所配的生菜特别涩的话(例如菠菜、苦瓜),这个沙拉酱可能没办法过关。所以设计沙拉酱,最好能酸甜咸俱全,才能配搭多种不同的沙拉 :)

Next time,  when you have salad,  try pick a sauce with one taste missing,  and feel if there is anything not quite right on the tongue?  

Bon Apetito,
Kee Yew
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